A season that promised so much sadly ended in disappointment when Western Province defeated the Cell C Sharks 33-21 in the 2017 Currie Cup Final at Growthpoint KINGS PARK on Saturday.
The first half offered the opportunity to see out the season in style, one that should have ended in the glory promised in a fruitful campaign that saw us finish the pool stages top of the log. But Western Province came out rejuvenated in the second half with a powerful performance that wrestled control in their favour.
Odwa Ndungane’s swansong for The Cell C Sharks had the dream start, his first touch of the ball resulting in a try, thanks to an exciting break from Marius Louw. Earlier, Western Province had lost the ball from the kick-off and we put them under immense pressure. Although we couldn’t take advantage of the situation, we struck back in magnificent form to score in the corner, with Curwin Bosch converting from out wide for a 7-nil lead within five minutes of kick-off.
Province didn’t needed any more prompting that this was a final and struck back within a few minutes off a second strong scrum, scoring near the posts for an easy conversion to level matters.
Curwin Bosch maintained his composure with the boot when he struck a 40m penalty to put us back in front. From the kick-off, Garth April made a huge break which took us deep into the Province half, and after the visitors infringed on defence to give us penalty advantage, we managed to push hard with Dan du Preez driving over forcefully for the second try for a 15-7 lead on the 20 minute mark.
After losing Jean-Luc du Preez to a suspected knee injury, his brother, playing for Province, struck a penalty to cut the lead to five points, only for Bosch to cancel it out with a penalty of his own moments later.
Bosch showed his BMT with a successful drop goal from 40m out to extend the lead to 11 points with less than 10 minutes of an exciting first half remaining.
Western Province had the last say as they hammered away in the closing stages of the half, finally scoring in the corner with the defence out wide short on numbers. It was a disappointing end to the first half. The conversion from out wide stuck the post and we went into the half-time break leading 21-15.
Both sides had showed a desire to play attacking rugby and the second half promised much of the same.
The second half proved a lot tighter in the early stages, with Province striking first blood after 10 minutes, scoring a try off a strong scrum. The conversion was wide which meant that we were still in the lead, but it was getting too close for comfort.
Moments later Province had the fourth try, taking them into a 27-21 lead for the first time in the game and they continued to pile on the pressure with another penalty that took them into a nine point lead as the game went into the final quarter.
Province continued to assert their dominance with another penalty as we couldn’t get going in a second half that simply wouldn’t go our way, stretching their lead to 33-21 with the final 10 minutes of the final remaining.
No further scores came in a second half that never really rose to any great heights.